Raising a glass to the Sussex chicken

Rouser 2013
Rouser 2013

Sussex is famous for many things, from Winnie-the-Pooh to the Long Man of Wilmington to Glyndebourne Opera.

But few know that it is also famous world-wide for its chickens.

The Sussex chicken was a prized table bird more than 100 years ago.

The original colours were brown, red and speckled. It is one of the oldest breeds that are still in existence today.

It is said to be an alert but docile breed that can adapt to any surroundings easily. They are good foragers. While they are quite happy to be free range, they will also be fine if kept in a confined space.

The Sussex chicken, whatever its colour, should be graceful. The eyes are red in the darker varieties but are orange in the lighter ones.

They have a medium sized single comb. The brown and red varieties are rare now with the other colours being quite common.

Rouser is this week getting broody about chickens because, one, he is getting hungry and, two, he has come across a copy of the Sussex Poultry Club year book for 1940 (pictured).

In those war years it was imperative to to keep chickens at the top of the back yard food list.

As the year book stated: ‘Mistakes were made in the last war [1914-18]. Then, owing to food difficulties, many of the good stocks of Sussex fowls were killed off and, largely in consequence of this policy, the right type has been lost and never yet regained.

‘All those interested in Sussex fowls should strive to the utmost to retain the very best of their stocks. When better times return, we shall then be able to start afresh with a far better nucleus of stock than we had in 1918.’